Berklee Alumni Top USA Songwriting Competition

Berklee Alumni Top USA Songwriting Competition

James Adam Shelley ’10, Matthew Sanchez ’10, Zachary Barnett ’10, and Dave Rublin of the band American Authors, won the USA Songwriting Competition’s Overall Grand Prize for their song “Believer.” The band was recently signed to Island Records and “Believer” has made headway on the Billboard charts and on Alt Rock radio stations.

Several other Berklee alumni were among the competition’s winners and finalists. Jen Chapin ’95 took first prize for lyrics. Don Breithaupt ’84, Rodrigo Bonelli ’05, Akihiro Yoshimoto ’06, Monika Hoffman ’04, Yuko Yamamura ’05, and Catie Offerman ’13 were finalists. Ulf Anneken ’06 and Hiromi Suda ’09 received honorable mention.

Ryo Tanaka

Ryo Tanaka of Brooklyn, NY, is a monitor for the the Encino, California-based company Gaai Drums & Co.

Lisa Occhino

Lisa Occhino ’13
Lisa Occhino ’13

Lisa Occhino of Stamford, CT, is the first managing editor of Sonicbids. She also launched the startup SongwriterLink, which based on algorithms, matches songwriters with one another and enables them to collaborate online.

Rick Mier

Banjoist Rick Mier of Corte Madera, CA, has been performing Celtic bluegrass together with Irish fiddler Kathleen Parks.

John Lee

Bassist John Lee and his trio performed as part of the Georgia Straight Jazz Society’s pre-Christmas celebration. The group featured guitarist Andrew Janusson and drummer Michael Mlikotic.

Mike Bono

Mike Bono of Howell, NJ, released his debut CD, featuring Julian Lage ’08 on guitar.

Javier Samayoa

Javier Samayoa of Brooklyn, NY, wrote material and performed on multiple instruments on Numasbala’s album A Ver. Visit

Jourdan Rystrom

Jourdan Rystrom ’11
Jourdan Rystrom ’11

Jourdan Rystrom of Los Angeles, CA, had two songs featured on the television show The Bold and the Beautiful. Her first single, “What’s Left to Say,” reached number 10 in Amazon’s Best Sellers and number one in Amazon’s Hot New Releases. Visit

Tavonna Miller

Tavonna Miller of Allston, MA, was a finalist in the 2013 John Lennon Songwriting Competition with her song “In My Room.”

John Ryan

John Ryan of Calabasas, CA, signed an exclusive worldwide publishing agreement with Big Deal Music and BMG Chrysalis US. He has written songs for One Direction, Cody Simpson, JLS, and others.